kids

The 4 biggest trends that are changing how parents choose childcare today.

Toddle
Thanks to our brand partner, Toddle

When it comes to choosing childcare in 2020, 'average' just doesn't cut it.

Parents are on the hunt for centres where their little people will thrive. From innovative menus that cater to specific food tastes and needs, to activity programs that, quite frankly, make most adults envious (think cooking classes and yoga sessions), there are some growing trends that are influencing how we choose childcare.

Arthur Charlaftis is the founder and CEO of Toddle, which is Australia's most comprehensive childcare search and comparison platform. Charlaftis, who is the former COO of RealEstate.com.au and has operated childcare centres himself, has a deep insight into what parents are really looking for when they choose a childcare centre.

We asked him what four of the biggest rising trends are, and here's what he told us.

1. Centre transparency and #alltheinfo.

There’s not much you can’t find online these days, so it makes sense that the first place most parents start the childcare search is on the internet. The problem is, a lot of centres don’t always have the information parents want or need to see.

"Parents expect to be able to get a feel for the centre by looking online, but a lot of centres don’t have information on their websites, such as what programs they offer, reviews, menus, their fees or even their availability," Charlaftis tells Mamamia.

Because of this, it can be very difficult for parents to get a proper 'feel' for the centre - and with COVID restricting in-person visits, parents face a conundrum.

Charlaftis and his team at Toddle saw this as an opportunity to create and showcase all the differences between centres in one place, to make the decision-making process easier for parents.

“Parents are a lot more informed today and want to know that they are making the right decision for their children when it comes to who looks after them," he tells us. "At Toddle, you can find everything you need in one place." 

This includes photos, maps, menus, programs, extracurricular activities, immersive centre videos, and, often most importantly, parent testimonials and reviews. This provides an impartial and comprehensive online experience to help parents make a more informed decision on which childcare centre is right for them. 

One of the many features on Toddle's website - its Child Care Subsidy calculator. Image: Toddle.


2. A holistic 'whole child' approach.

ADVERTISEMENT

Childcare in 2020 is a quite different to what many parents may have experienced during their own daycare and preschool days.

"Parents are definitely looking for a lot more than child minding," says Charlaftis. "They’re seeing childcare as an important part of their child’s education."

And with so many Australian childcare centres paving the way globally to create innovative, exciting and out-of-the-box experiences for children; think language classes, cooking lessons, immersive music experiences and yoga. It’s no wonder parents are looking for more than just location, hours and fees. 

There is a real focus on creating centres and experiences for children that cater to their needs in a holistic way. 

While state-of-the-art indoor and outdoor play facilities, like outdoor water splash parks, vast sandpits, mud kitchens and pits, centre pets, and even rock climbing walls are a permanent (and very popular) feature, many centres now go beyond that to offer some fantastic out-of-the-gate experiences for children.

"One popular option is ‘Bush Kinder’," says Charlaftis. "[This is] where children are taken to local creeks or bushland to explore local habitats, play with rocks, find animals, climb trees, and just enjoy the wide open spaces." 

Other popular excursions include walks in the community, visits to the library, or trips to the museum with their educators and friends.

Outdoor adventures are more popular than ever. Image: Getty.


 3. The fresh food revolution. 

ADVERTISEMENT

One of the best parts of childcare for many parents is having the dreaded 'What do I pack in their lunchbox?' taken off the to-do list.

"Parents today are much more focused on nutrition and variety and are looking for centres that nourish their children in line with the home eating philosophy," says Arthur. "Parents know that quite often their child will try new and interesting foods at childcare that they wouldn’t eat at home."

Modern-day childcare menus focus on healthy, wholesome ingredients which encourage little foodies to experiment with different tastes in a relaxed environment. And parents are able to check out what is on offer on the Toddle website.

"Toddle provides parents with the ability to compare different menus between centres," says Arthur. "Some offer the basics like Spaghetti Bolognese while others have sushi and share platters."

One growing trend is to have menus designed by well-known dietitians and even celebrity chefs. For example, Paisley Park Early Learning Centres' menus have been specially crafted by Miguel Maestre from Network Ten's The Living Room. Fancy, huh?

Nutrition plays a large role in many parents' decisions. Image: Getty.

 

4. A focus on sustainability and social responsibility.

ADVERTISEMENT

"Parents love seeing that childcare centres teach their children how to be valuable citizens of the world," says Charlaftis.

"A popular activity we are seeing several centres offering is aged care visits (pre-COVID obviously) with some centres even pivoting to virtual visits to ensure their 'grand-friends' felt connected during lockdown."

And the focus on sustainability and social responsibility doesn’t end there.

"Activities like recycling, composting, worm farms, growing produce, saving water, caring for chickens and other pets are all very popular," Arthur says. 

A great example of this is ToBeMe Early Learning in Sydney’s Five Dock, which is on its way to being both completely self-sustainable, as well as becoming organic certified. 

The children oversee the entire process from start to finish, which is a very practical way to learn about the where food comes from and how it is grown.

At Sesame Lane Morayfield, just north of Brisbane, children are involved in planting, caring for gardens and worm farms, while also learning about composting and recycling.

And at Eynesbury Early Education, this child care centre located in Victoria has a strong link with the community. They run Bush Kinder programs where children explore freely in nature, hold community markets, weekly visits (pre-COVID) to aged care facilities, and make a point of teaching the children the importance of community as part of the curriculum. It's a great reminder that childcare isn't always 'one size fits all', and it's this rich diversity that is changing the game for kids of the future.

Want to win FREE childcare for a year? Just enquire and enrol in the childcare centre of your choice via toddle.com.au between Monday October 26 and Friday December 18, 2020, and you will go into the running to win a year of free childcare (up to the value of $10,000). Visit Toddle.com.au for more information. *T&Cs apply.

Feature image: Getty.

Toddle
Toddle is a game-changing child care centre comparison website allowing parents to search, discover and enquire in one helpful location. Toddle takes the guesswork out of what can be a stressful process for parents, aggregating options and presenting the truth in an understandable and engaging way. Toddle has access to data from every Australian child care centre offering neutral recommendations based on your unique needs to make a more informed decision on the best child care centre for your little one.
00:00 / ???